Friday, July 9, 2010

I broke the Jinx!

I successfully gave my first Adult Tour this Thursday!

Though, I am
excited that I managed to engage and educate a group of adult museum goers - a feat that seems particularly more nerve-racking than entertaining school groups and summer camps - I am most excited that I may not be the bad luck charm responsible for repulsing our would-be tour participants of the Art Institute.

(The jury is still out on Mary's bad luck and whether she is the cause of our misfortunes this week - Sorry Mary.)

FYI: In case you have not read my last blog post "The Case of the Jinxed Intern Pair," Mary and I endured the frustration and humiliation of three no-show tour groups throughout the week. Nobody likes being stood up. Our emotional wounds are still healing.

I am happy to report though, that I have broken the jinx.

After anxiously waiting in Griffin Court (with the much appreciated presence of a few other interns) a group of about 10-15 talkative museum patrons showed up for the Highlights of the Modern Wing tour I was giving with Senior Lecturer, Margaret Farr. Unfortunately the lines to get into the museum during our Thursday night free hours are so long that I know at least one friend could not even get into the museum in time to participate in my tour. *Note for future Tour-goers – Come early for the 5:30 free hours tours*

Margaret started our “Contemporary Storytelling” themed tour with Gerhard Richter’s, “Woman Descending a Staircase.” This piece is one of my personal favorites. The audience was very engaged and Margaret perfectly segued into my next two pieces by introducing ideas of layered understanding and closer investigation.

Next I took the group to Charles Ray’s, “Hinoki” asking them to give me their first impressions from further back and inviting them to take a closer look to see what it might reveal. I’ve found that this piece is rewarding to talk about. Everyone seems to be intrigued by it and they always want to know more. You can’t lose with a piece that takes a lot of technical skill (even if not by the artist, himself) and has a lot of good anecdotes to accompany it.

The third and final piece (the 5:30 tours are only 30 minutes) was Doris Salcedo’s, “Untitled (Armoire).” I was a little bit worried about people connecting to this piece and I did have one man express his frustration, but I was pleasantly surprised by the reaction and interest from the rest of the crowd.

This tour was really fun and it is up there with Family Tours as my favorite kind of tour to give. People pose interesting questions, make insightful points and usually manage to get you to look at the piece in a new light. ...wait, isn’t that my job?

Now, a few words of advice to future interns about the kind of …well, ‘characters’ you may get on a tour:

1) Always acknowledge someone’s comment, question or concern…even if they ask/state the same thing repeatedly. You will hear yourself say “Yeah, sure, maybe, that could be” more than you would like to know, but it will get worse if you chose to ignore them.

2) Other tour participants may not appreciate the incessant questioning or commenting of another tour participant – Don’t be afraid to ask, “Does anyone else have a question or comment?” while looking through/past/around said tour participant.

You’ll have your crazy, angry, frustrated, bored and know-it-all tour participants, but the large majority are nice, encouraging and engaged. They chose to be there, we want to talk to them and that’s what makes it fun.

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